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Cachaça in the Boston or South Shore area?

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Anyone know of any liquor stores that carry Cachaça in the Boston/Chelsea/Lynn or Taunton areas? Thank you in advance!

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  1. My usual rotation for spirits -- Liquor Land in Roxbury, Marty's in Newton, Blanchard's in Allston, Martignetti's in Brighton -- has a pretty good selection of cachaças. There are five or six I see everywhere, and at least one fancy one (Beija) that is really smooth: you could drink that stuff neat.

    I recently stopped by the place in North Allston at the corner of Cambridge and N. Harvard (across from the Hess gas station), and it has a few I've never seen before, including smallish (pint?) bottles for sale near the register.

    I think cachaças in Boston might be at the point where tequilas were ten years ago: there's a bunch of good stuff that non-Brazilians have no idea about, and thus not enough demand to import them. With luck, someday we'll be able to choose from a couple of dozen artisanal cachaça brands the way we can with pure-agave tequilas now.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    15 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Thanks for the leads, MC. There is another Blanchards nearby in Revere, maybe I'll swing by and see if they have any at that location.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        I gotta say, I love Cachaça (and the French Caribbean Rum Agricole) but don't detect a whole lot of difference between brands. I don't think the comparison to tequila production is really valid. Producing tequila from agave is rather involved with cooking the Agave for hours (with many variants as to fuel, cooking approach etc.) and then mashing the agave and only then does the fermenting begin.

        Again, I love Cachaça, but to make it you juice sugar cane, ferment, and distill. It is the natural grassy taste of the cane that comes through which I love.

        As soon as they start aging it French Oak Limousin barrels I think they have corrupted an otherwise simple, but yummy product. Furthermore, I think any attempt to turn it into some foofy refined $60/bottle item is misguarded.

        I drink it on the rocks, perhaps with a slight squeeze of lime, sort of a pared down Caipirinha (or Ti Punch in the French Caribbean.)

        But heck, let's take it a step further and organize a Cachaça tasting; maybe I'll be proved wrong.

        1. re: StriperGuy

          They already are aging it in oak barrels, SG! We just aren't getting it state-side. I sampled a couple recently - one aged in sherry casks that was truly outstanding!

          I think there is a tremendous difference in taste, just that we tend to see only the same style of cachaca state-side. There are dark cachacas that we typically don't see that taste way different among the brands than the light varieties....sort of like light beer vs. dark beer (albeit not the best example).

          I have a friend who is looking to start importing different cachacas...I think there truly is a huge variety - at least as much variety as there is in vodkas (to me at least).

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            Vodka is a bad example in my book: dictionary definition, colorless flavorless liquid. I think the whole vodka trend is just silly, and thank heavens seems to be winding down a bit.

            Barrel aging is a mixed blessing. Are you interested in the yummy tastes that the distillation process brings out: peat and florals in scotch, grapey goodness in grappas, the nice clean grassy tastes in cachaca, the floral grain notes in corn whiskey, or the fruit in Calvados, eau de vie, and kirsch? That is really what I like in booze.

            I recently had a remarkable, NY grown, and distilled, non-barrel aged corn whiskey that has to be drunk neat for it's incredibly delicate taste to be appreciated:

            http://shoppersvineyard.com/product_n...

            There are only so many sherry casks, sauterne casks, and old Jim Beam casks in the world. If they start aging everything in them, then all booze will taste the same: woody, polished, super smooth, cognac-like (oh that's right it was the cognac guys that started the whole idea of aging marginal brandy in casks to polish it up).

            Bottom line, I'll take most of my distillates without the barrel.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Word to you, SG, regarding the barrels.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                This thread prompted me to start another on barrel aging on the spirits board:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/625369

              2. re: StriperGuy

                I agree with you about the vodka - as you said, they are by definition all supposed to taste the same. Yet they somehow figure out how to brand one vs. another. So just pointing to that logic as what might happen with cachaca.

                Your points on barrel aging are well-taken. And I am by no means a cachaca expert, but I think there are differences in taste in brands, etc. My only point.

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  Gotcha.

                2. re: StriperGuy

                  My preference is also to non-barrel aged cachaca and that is especially common in Minas Gerais where a "branquinha" (little white one) is what people often ask for. The term isn't a 100% guarantee that you'll get non-barrel aged cachaca because sometimes people talk about a "branquinha envelhecida"... and there is aging in stainless, although I don't know that its common. And you have to be careful because a plenty of unaged cachacas have more burn (at 90 proof) and esters than taste (the marvada or danadinha which I won't translate). If you go to Brazil definately visit Minas which has the most pot stills in Brazil, there is even a brand from the Vice Presidents Farm (not bad actually). However, here in Boston, I would take something like that DRM which Beleza Pura is said to be importing -- an artesanal cachaca is a lot better, no matter whether its aged in barrels, than junk. So if BD's friends bring something better aged in a barrel, great! The smaller labels available here from Minas are worth checking out, but can be hit or miss.

                  1. re: itaunas

                    Much of the French Caribbean Rum Agricole is actually distilled strength and thus 150 or 160 proof. When I first had this stuff I was stunned to see the locals drinking it neat, or in a Ti Punch which an old school place will serve you by bringing a bottle of rum, some cut up lime, and a bottle cane syrup. No ice. You basically help yourself to as much rum as you please, straight up, and then embellish with lime and cane syrup if you so desire. Whew, nothing like a liter bottle of 160 proof rum to get your evening off to a start.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      Yes, but the excess quantities of heads is what I am talking about, not necessarily the amount its diluted. However, a lot of Brazilians associate the 90 proofs as the cheap stuff, so I think it becomes something along the lines of a self-fulfilling prophecy -- the produces which make the cheap stuff label it 90 proof and others may avoid it.

                      1. re: itaunas

                        After reading this and several other posts about Cachaca and aging spirits, I went out in search of some to try. I went to Sav-Mor on McGrath and picked up a bottle of Armazem Viera Rubi. It's an artisian (sp?) product, aged 8 yrs in some native Brazilian wood (NOT oak!) and I quite liked it. It was listed for like $47 on some online retailers, but it was $20 at Sav-Mor. They also carried several bottlings from Salinas/ Meia Lua (made in Minas Gerais, I think - the only reason I didn't choose one from that line was because I didn't know which bottling was best...)

                3. re: Bob Dobalina

                  Hey Bob!
                  I'm a cachaça producer. I live in Brazil and have a small alambique in Rio de Janeiro State.

                  I saw your comentary about Oak Barrels and here we have been using oak barrels to age cachaça since 19th century, is the most used kind of wood actualy. But there are at least 22 diferent tipes of Brazilian woods that can be used for it and each one have it´s own identity and flavor.

                  There are certain tipes that can age the cachaça but don´t modify the original taste of the "white" one (those that don´t goes to wood casks), so you can make the "pinga" smoother without change the flavor. If you wanna try one of those, look for cachaças aged in "Jequitibá" barrels.

                  Well, it´s very nice to know that there are people intersted about the cachaça world. I am here for anything you need about the most famous brazilian drink.

                  1. re: BARRIL39

                    Barril - thanks for the post and I would love to chat more - can you e-mail me at bobdobalina.2009 at yahoo?

                    1. re: BARRIL39

                      Barril 39 - I am interested in more information about your cachaca production etc.
                      maximosca at charter.net
                      Tks / Scott

              3. Chelsea and Lynn have a lot of Brazilians, but no liquor store that I know which specifically caters to them. A decent hispanic/latino oriented liquor store should have at a minumum a couple of industrially distilled brands, 51 being the most common (which just about any american liquor store carries). If possible see if you can get Velho Barreiro in a brown bottle, which is industrially distilled but a better option both for drinking neat and in caipirinhas. Cachaca Rocinha is a cheap brand ok for caipirinhas. Taunton definately would have better options as there are some places which have a lot of Portuguese wines, I just can't point you to one unfortunately. Look for clear bottles from Minas Gerais, some of them are quite good and inexpensive. On the South Shore you could give Presidential Liquors in Quincy or Luke's Liquors in Rockland a try.

                Regarding the general discussion of cachacas in the Boston area. I did a lot of tasting in the past and have also visited some traditional alambiques in Brazil. We do not have much real artesanal cachaca on sale here, although a lot is exported to Europe. There are a bunch of premimum brands being launched here Beija, Boca Loca, Beleza Pura (which is importing some artesan cachacas but I don't know about their availability around here, although you could write). Most of these follow the premimum white spirits, they are big on the marketing and focused on American tastes... I think most deal with large companies because they can bulk export to Europe, then bottle. It definitely is worth looking into the Beleza Pura's aged line (the GRM they offer, I previously brought back from Brazil and has been exported to Europe for a long time). But in a lot of cases you are paying a premimum for a industrial distilled product.

                We do have a few small brands of cachaca which are imported here (most via Newark), mostly from Minas Gerais and one or two from the Northeast. As well as other larger brands such as Pitu and Ypioca. Some of those are quite good, some of them vary from batch to batch (cigana from paraiba was good in one early batch and then subsequently awful) and in some case some of them don't move off the shelves too fast. Most are industrial column distilled, not pot stilled cachacas. However, we also have Cape Verdean aguardentes, Portuguese aguardentes and brandies (varying from brandy like distillations to grappas), liquers from all these countries and including licor de jabuticaba from Minas Gerais. Newark is the center of distribution on the east coast, so has a lot more options, but there are some good things here if you hunt around. By all acounts we have a lot more options than the West Coast. On a funny note, a bunch of years ago a Brazilian in Allston/Brighton reportedly managed to import a whole drum of cachaca somehow and was selling it for some time out of his basement.

                Some decent stores for cachaca:

                Jerry's Liquors in Union Square Somerville. A Portuguese liquor store which has advertised in the Brazilian newspaper every Friday since the first edition as "Jerry's Cachacas." They tend to offer the best prices on industrial brands, a bit more expensive on some of the smaller brands, probably the best selection of Portuguese Aguardente and have licor de jabuticaba. They do have Beija and others, plus something in a sugarcane shaped bottle that I forget what it is.

                Allston Food and Spirits: this is the one which MCSlimJB mentioned and was one of the first to offer certain brands from Minas Gerais and has been offering cachaca for as long as Jerry's, definitely worth a visit and good prices in the past, but I haven't been around here recently.

                660 Liquors, Cambridge St, Cambridge. Can be a bit pricey for cachacas, but seems to do a better job of others in keeping things in stock. They have a good selection of Cape Verdean aguardentes and liquers.

                SavMor, McGrath Highway, Somerville: Sometimes carries more cachacas from Minas than Jerry's and some with better prices, but prices do very. Decent selection of Portuguese aguardente, less Cape Verdean. Note that the Kappy's at Fresh Pond and SavMor next to Whole Foods in Medford are related so they do have more offerings than most American liquor stores but be wary of things that don't fly to quickly off the shelves (Medford seems to have more turnover).

                Presidential Liquors, Quincy: One buyer here was Brazilian (dunno about today) and at one point out of pride he was trying to stock just about everything out there on the market. I can't tell you what they have now, but could be the best South Shore option.

                Blanchards in Allston: Probably the largest selection of cachacas in a big American liquor store.

                Most cachaca in Brazil is drunk or sipped neat, called pinga, "uma branquinha" (particularly in minas gerais), caninha, birita... The cachacas produced vary from essentially grain alcohol with some flavors to organic wood-fired pot-stilled cachacas made from organic cane with care given to the harvest, etc. There are differences in the separations (heads/middle cut/ tails), feints used... and aging (some commercialized after a short time like 3 months, others aged for years in various woods). In some parts of Brazil you can refill a personal oak barrel or 2L coke bottle from a 50 gallon drum at the local bar more easily than find a store open with bottled cachaca. If more Americans looked past fancy labels and the convenient, we might have more artesanal cachacas available here.

                5 Replies
                1. re: itaunas

                  The definitive answer per your usual.

                  I will say that an alambique-distilled cachaca from well harvested cane, made by someone who really knows what they are doing is something I would like to try. It could only bring out the grassy, flowery, botanical notes I love. I'll take mine un-aged.

                  I have purchased some excellent Portuguese aguardentes around. One in a funky clay bottle was quite delicious. Some of the others were grappa like at 1/2 the price.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    This is useful to know about; my only experience with Iberian / Latin American "firewater" was the Colombian aguardiente, which is a cane spirit flavored with aniseed, sort of like cachaça ouzo. I thought they were all like that.

                    Looking into it, I see there's far more variety to the aguardente / aguardiente category than I realized. Most of them are more like cachaça or grappa. Interesting!

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      A good source for Portuguese wines, etc, etc is

                      Gasbarros
                      618 Warren Ave
                      East Providence, RI
                      (401) 434-9556‎

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        I believe Portuguese Aguardente which is made like grappa is usually labeled "Aguardente Bagaceira" and Aguardente which mentions "vinho fino" or "vinica" would be more like Brandy... but don't believe there are strict rules. (And terms like conhaque, brandy, xerez are used colloqually especially in Brazil, but in Portugal there first and last might not actually appear on labels). Keep in mind that even the wine aguardentes will generally be higher in alcohol than French varieties (40+%), although they don't exclusively bottle them with that level.

                        As craigasauras reported, Sav Mor had a couple of decent artesanal cachacas recently and not too expensive. The store I would give the "most improved" label is Alexander Barrios Liquors on Broadway in Somerville, if you walk past the large producer cachacas they put in plain view (velho barreiro, etc), they have a good corner of a shelf with a variety of cachacas. More than 660 and Jerry's. Unfortunately seems to be at the expense of aguardente as they had a pretty slim Portuguese selection, but not bad. They also have an outlet in Medford which could probably get items on request, but probably carries less selection.

                      2. re: itaunas

                        Wow, thank you! Lots of good information in there and I think more than enough names to try to get me through summer! :)

                      3. Near the Holiday Inn in Sommerville, the liquor store next to Esquina Brasil has 910 ml bottles of Velho Barreiro for $15.99, a happy accident I discovered on a business trip a couple of weeks ago.

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                        Holiday Inn
                        1 Newbury St, Peabody, MA 01960

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: elitimbre

                          You are in the right area and picked a decent industrial cachaça (one that I like for making caipirinhas) but if its near Esquina Brasil its at McGrath and Washington (probably 1/2 mi from the Holiday Inn). Hope you visit again and from McGrath/Washington within a 1/2 mile in 3 directions you could probably acquire a decent cachaça from Minas Gerais for that price +/- $2. Jerry's Liquors (which sometimes calls itself "Jerry's Cachaça) in Union Sq, Barrios (aka Alexander's) Liquors on Broadway which is equidistant from the Holiday Inn, and Sav Mor right on McGrath Hwy (sometimes the best prices, sometimes the worst). Most of these carry portuguese aguardente (brandy) and aguardente de bagaco (grappa), and most also have Cape Verdean aguardente de cana de acuçar (eg cachaça) also. And on the 25th of June in Union Square they are having the largest of the Brazilian festas juninas (which used to serve quentão which uses cachaça, but as far as I know doesn't any more).

                          -----
                          Holiday Inn
                          1 Newbury St, Peabody, MA 01960